Semashko, Yosyf

Semashko, Yosyf [Семашко, Йосиф; Semaško, Josyf], b 5 January 1799 in Pavlivka, Lypovets county, Kyiv gubernia, d 5 December 1868 in Vilnius. Church hierarch. The son of a Uniate priest, he graduated from the Catholic Theological Seminary of Vilnius University, and was ordained in 1821. In 1822 he entered the Roman Catholic College in Saint Petersburg. There he and members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox church prepared plans for the conversion of the Uniates of Right-Bank Ukraine and Belarus to Orthodoxy. He helped prepare a project to establish a Uniate college, and assisted in drawing up plans to abolish the Basilian monastic order (realized in 1832), to reorganize the eparchies, and to purge Latin elements from Uniate church rites. He was consecrated bishop of Mstsislau and head of the Belarusian consistory in 1829 and bishop of Lithuania in 1832. In 1835 he joined a secret committee working to incorporate the Uniate church into the Russian Orthodox church. Its objective was formally accomplished in February 1839. Semashko was made Orthodox archbishop of Vilnius and Lithuania, and in 1844 he moved to Zhyrovichy to assist in the conversion of Belarus. Semashko’s actions were condemned by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839 and by Mykhailo Levytsky, the metropolitan of Halych (see Halych metropoly) and archbishop of Lviv. Semashko joined the Holy Synod in 1847 and was named a metropolitan in 1852. His autobiography and a collection of documents associated with his life were published as Zapiski Iosifa, mitropolita Litovskogo (The Notes of Yosyf, Metropolitan of Lithuania, 1883, 3 vols).

Kiprianovich, Grigorii. Zhizn' Iosifa Semashki, mitropolita Litovskago i Vilenskago i vozsoedinenie zapadno-russkikh uniatov s Pravoslavnoi tserkoviu v 1839 g. (2nd ed, Vilnius 1897)
Lencyk, Wasyl. The Eastern Catholic Church and Czar Nicholas I (Rome 1966)

Wasyl Lencyk

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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